Cerro San Cristóbal

Top choice in Santiago

birdeye view of Andes and Santiago, Chile

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The best views over Santiago are from the peaks and viewpoints of the Parque Metropolitano, better known as Cerro San Cristóbal. At 722 hectares, the park is Santiago's largest green space, but it's still decidedly urban: a funicular carries you between different landscaped sections on one side, while a teleférico (cable car) swoops you away on the other.

A snowy white 14m-high statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción towers atop the cumbre (summit) at the Bellavista end of the park. The benches at its feet are the outdoor church where Pope John Paul II said Mass in 1984. To get here, take a steep switchbacked dirt trail or the funicular from Plaza Caupolicán (where you'll also find a tourist info kiosk). Alternatively, enter the park from Pedro de Valdivia and board the teleférico.

Other attractions on the hillside include the Zoológico Nacional; the Jardín Botánico Mapulemu, a botanical garden; the child-oriented Plaza de Juegos Infantiles Gabriela Mistral, featuring attractive wooden playground equipment and an interactive water fountain; and two huge public swimming pools, the Piscina Tupahue and Piscina Antilén. The small but perfectly landscaped Jardín Japonés (Japanese Garden) is just above the Pedro de Valdivia entrance.

Near the top of the funicular is the Terraza Bellavista, where there are a few snack stands and extraordinary views across the city. The park lies north of Bellavista and Providencia and has entrances in both neighborhoods.